12-12-2016

2016 New York City Marathon Race Recap

It’s here – it’s finally here!!

Took my long enough but I really wanted to finish my recap video (which will be below) before I wrote this. It’s been over a month since my mom and I ran the New York City Marathon, but I still feel a runner’s high from that day.

You’ll be able to take the journey with us in the video, beginning with the Staten Island Ferry ride and ending at the finish line.  I have so many thoughts about this race – I don’t even know where to start. This post might get a little jumbled!

Here’s me 2011 recap and my 2013 recap.

Leading Up To Race Day

It was weird. I expected to be nervous but didn’t really feel anything. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or bad thing. I’m always nervous before big races, but this time I felt pretty at ease. I think I was the most mentally and physically prepared I’ve ever been, so that helped. 

About 2 weeks before I did get a bout of nervousness, but in order to get past that, I read through my training logs from this cycle and those from 2013 and realized I was in pretty good shape. Also, my shin pain had gone away for the most part thanks to physical therapy and custom orthotics. I’ve never been able to train this consistently AND be pain free.

I went on a shakeout run the day before and felt great. I felt ready.

The Expo

We headed to the expo with my mom’s friend and my sister. My mom’s friend has never done a half marathon or marathon, so this experience was all new to her. She loved it and is thinking about doing her 9+1 next year to get into NYC Marathon…another one on the marathon team! :)

I love race expos and know I will want to walk around and explore, so we always try to go on the first day. We picked up our numbers and then it got real. My sister filmed this part for my NYC Marathon Expo vlog (below) and said, “Wow that even made me nervous!”

New York City Marathon Expo

New York City Marathon Expo

We walked around and I sat in on the course strategy session. Even though this was my third time running it, it helped to get a refresher on the course and what to expect. PS – totally forgot about that long climb at mile 23ish. That killed me.

Race Day

We were running the race with one of my mom’s friends. This was her first marathon so she was a bit nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I told her to just take it easy in the first few miles, but she could leave us at any point if she wanted to (we split up with her around the half way point).

We opted to take the Staten Island Ferry although I’m not sure I will do this again in the future. We also took the ferry in 2013. I don’t mind the process of getting to the city and on the ferry; the problem comes once you get off the ferry and have to wait to get on the busses. That part probably took 45-60 minutes itself and my feet were starting to get tired which made me nervous. Then you get on the bus and it takes you to the starting area, but there was a ton of traffic so that also ends up taking 30-40 minutes. I overheard a few people saying they missed their wave.

In 2013, NYRR placed us on the 7:45 ferry and ensured we’d make it on time for the 10:55 wave. Well, we barely did and legit were the LAST ones running to the start corral. So this year we got on the 7:30 ferry and although we made it on time, we were still a bit rushed.

The starting area is very well organized though with plenty of port-a-potties. We picked a spot to get our numbers on and do last minute things. We headed to the corral at 10:45 and there were also bathrooms in the corral which was good because I always need to pee RIGHT before I run :-)

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Ok let’s get into the race itself!

Miles 1-8

We started on the Verrazano Bridge which is the steepest and longest hill of the whole race, but as everyone always says, you barely feel it because you’re so amped up.

Mile 1 was slow, like around 12 min/mile pace, which was fine with me. By mile 3 we were in the 10:45-10:50 range that I wanted to be in.

Time out, I forgot to mention I forgot my freaking watch and my mom’s didn’t work because the memory was full. So we mainly ran by feel. I turned on RunKeeper for a mile just to see what our average pace was, and then turned it on later in the race when I split up with my mom. We also meant to join a pace group but forgot that as well on race day. Moral of the story, write a to-do list or something because you will be all over the place on race morning.

Anyway, so we were cruising along in Brooklyn and knew we’d see my family (dad, brother, sister) at their first stop at mile 6.5ish. I took my GenUCAN around mile 3, and that would last me for 2 hours.

The Brooklyn crowds are always awesome. Everyone is screaming your name (if you have your name on your shirt) and high-fiving…it’s easy to get lost in the noise and speed up but don’t! Maintain control here.

We saw my family at mile 6.5 and I always feel bad because we stop for like 5 seconds to say hi and then run off. But they have been to each of our NYC Marathon’s and are pros by now at navigating the course and cheering us on :)

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My dad, sister and brother around mile 6

We kept trucking along and my mom filmed at times with her GoPro (where a lot of footage from my video came from). In 2013 my family went to mile 14 next, but this time they made another stop in between at mile 8ish. Around mile 8 is also an awesome spectator scene. It’s full of crowds and music. 

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Selfie with my dad (and a stranger filming me lol)

I was feeling awesome but I could tell my mom was not herself. In previous races she was always talking to me, smiling, filming, running ahead of me to take pics, and this time she was just silently running next to me. I didn’t want to say anything and get in her head, so I tried to be motivating with things like, “Ok we got this, almost at half way. We are at a good, steady pace.”

I also said I would be the one to take more pics this time to let her just run her race, so I ran ahead and took some pics.

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Miles 9-16

Remember in my short recap of NYC Marathon how I said I felt the best I’ve ever felt? Around miles 9-10, my body felt like it could start speeding up, but I held back. I  was too afraid and wanted to conserve energy. I think if I had just done what my body felt like doing, I could have PR-ed. More on that later.

Around mile 10 I said to my mom, ok after the halfway point we will speed up a tiny bit. Again, once we hit 13.1, I was afraid, and decided I would wait until after Queensboro bridger (mile 15-16).

Why is mile 13 (and halfway marker) on a bridge?? This was around when my mom stopped to walk for a bit. She said her knee was hurting, and that she was hungry. She also was using GenUCAN, but I think she hadn’t fueled enough in the week prior. We walked for probably 30 seconds then kept going. I said, ok we will go easy until after the bridge, then it’s time to turn it on.

The Queensboro Bridge, for me, is the toughest part of the race. Mentally, I was preparing myself for this almost mile-long incline. I felt like everything after that would be a piece of cake…well as much as it can be in a marathon.

We got on the bridge, and I was still feeling good. Like I’ve said before, the best I’ve ever felt, and best I’ve felt at this point in the race. In 2013, this was about where I was getting close to hitting the wall. This year, I was running up this bridge not even feeling like I was working that hard.

However, this was where my mom and I slowly started to split. I had to stop and walk a few times to wait for her to catch up to me. Some of my friends have asked why we don’t just run our own races…yeah, we could, but I love running and experiencing the race with her, especially the finish. So I stopped to walk and wait, and tried to give her a pep talk.

We knew we would be seeing my family again just off the bridge, a little past mile 16.

In the video, you’ll hear me say to my sister, “I feel good, I gotta go!” and she looks into the camera and says, “she feels good…for now…” lol. 

Miles 17-20

At this point in the race, I was like wow less than 10 miles to go! When you’re regularly doing 8-10 mile weekday training runs PLUS your weekend long runs, having 8-9 miles left in the race feels totally doable. I was having fun…I’ve never felt like this! It was amazing. In my past 3 marathons before this, these miles were a struggle, mentally and physically. Now I was running as if I had just started a run and had to run 8-9 miles.

Around mile 18, the crowds start to thin a bit. And then your mind starts playing tricks on you. You start to feel the fatigue. You start to think “Uh oh I’m getting tired…” So I put in headphones and put on the marathon playlist I made.

At this point, my mom was slowing down. I stopped again a few times to walk while I wait for her. She kept saying just go (she said this around mile 15) and I insisted no.

At mile 20 she said just go without me it’s fine. I said, yeah but what about the finish?!? She said we’ll meet after the finish line, it’s fine. I asked her if she was sure and she said yes. So at mile 20 we split up, and I felt so guilty about it for the next few miles. I called my dad to let him know. I kept thinking what if something happens to her and I left her?? Thankfully, nothing did.

It’s funny because my friend who was tracking me said she saw a spike from mile 20-21 and was wondering if there as a glitch in the app lol. I went from an 11:30-12/mile because I was with my mom, to 9:50-10:00/mile. 

I saw my family again at mile 22 and my dad yelled, “Only 4 more miles!!” I was like yeah!!

Miles 21-25

I maintained that pace for miles 21-22…and then the dreaded incline at mile 23. It doesn’t look like much, but I swear this incline is NEVER ENDING. I tried to keep my pace but stopped to walk twice and catch my breath. My music was what was helping me push myself at that point. If you need motivation in a race, put Work B*tch by Britney Spears on your playlist ;)

I turned into Central Park and thought to myself, ok NOW I have to turn it on. And I tried, as much as you can, at mile 24 of a marathon lol.

There are some undulating hills, and I tried using the downhills to my advantage. I remember I kept thinking, “WHEN are we getting out of Central Park??!”

Around mile 25 you finally get out of the park and onto Central Park South. This was also where my playlist ended but I wanted to take in the finish line crowds anyway. You run on Central Park South and then turn at Columbus Circle before entering the park. I didn’t see my family at this point because I had split up with my mom and they waited at the last checkpoint for her. 

I tried to pass as many people as I could, or hold on to those who were passing me. I tried to stick to them as long as I could (not very long).

Then you start seeing signs like 800 meters to go…

I was like ok TWO laps on the track that is easy, let’s do it!

Finish Line – Mile 26.2

You turn back into the park and then you see mile marker 26. I couldn’t believe it! I had 0.2 left. I thought, that is less than a lap on a track. Pretend this is a track workout and run 1 lap as fast as you can.

Well, I could barely speed up but it’s the thought that counts :)

I saw the sign that said 200 meters to go and really tried to kick it in.

I raised my arms, and crossed that finish line.

And it was bittersweet…because I was alone and had no one to celebrate with. 

I teared up and couldn’t believe it. I just felt SO good and had the best race ever.

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My finish time won’t reflect that (it was 4:56), but my body felt great, my energy levels were stable throughout, I had no shin pain…like I said, I couldn’t believe it. This was the first time I’ve teared up crossing a finish line. It was an emotional moment.

I started shuffling and stretching while I waited for my mom. She came in about 15 minutes after me. We hugged and got our medals and then it was time to make our way out of the park (another half mile UGH) and to see our family at our meeting spot, which is always the West Side YMCA.

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At this point I could barely walk right (and we had to go down subway stairs…went down the stairs backwards lol), but other than that was feeling good. 

Ok, enough of my writing, do you want to see the course and race for yourself? Here’s my race video!

Overall Thoughts:

  • I really liked Jason Karp’s Running a Marathon For Dummies plan. I felt super prepared for this race mentally and physically.
  • I need to figure out how to pace myself and “race” a marathon. I felt like this was too “easy” (whatever that means after running 26.2) but I’m always scared to push the pace and end up bonking.
  • This is still my all-time favorite marathon. Chicago was cool too but I just don’t think anything will compare to NYC Marathon.
  • I’m still on a runner’s high like I said – I have never felt so good in a race. Now after writing this I’m super pumped up to train for NYC Half!
  • Thank you for all your comments, well-wishes, etc. and thank you to ALL spectators that come support runners at the NYC Marathon/any marathon/any race! You have no idea how much that helps, even if you’re a total stranger to me.

Well that was long! :) Until next time NYC Marathon…perhaps 2018?

Did you run the New York City Marathon this year/in the past? What are your favorite parts of the course?

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12-07-2016

StrideBox Review & Unboxing

So far so good with my daily vlogging (though it’s only been 3 days haha). On today’s vlog, I opened up 2 StrideBox boxes, showed the different products inside and shared my thoughts.

Disclosure: Stridebox sent me these boxes to try out and review.

Check out my StrideBox review and what came in my boxes! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

StrideBox is a monthly subscription box for runners. I wasn’t sure what kind of products would come in each box or if it would actually be of interest to me as a runner, but I was pleasantly surprised! I actually can’t wait to try a bunch of these products, especially Tailwind. I’ve heard so many great things about it.

Here’s my vlog from yesterday and more specifics on StrideBox if you’re interested:

If you don’t have time to watch, here are my quick thoughts:

  • Most of the products are really helpful or beneficial to runners. Some I thought were a little random (calcium + magnesium supplement or this special tea) BUT it is still relevant to runners.
  • This is a great way to get supplements or fuel to try out. I’ve tried SO many different things when it comes to fuel (and finally found one I love – GenUCAN), so if you’re like me, this is a good way to get monthly samples and figure out what works for you. My 2 boxes had Accel gel, Tailwind and Sport Beans in them – a good variation to test out.
  • If you’re like me and notice packaging, the packaging is awesome! I love the little inspirational sticker (where can I put these??) and the card at the bottom of the box that shares a workout and recipe.

Have you tried StrideBox? What other monthly subscription boxes do you order?

PS – Here’s my first Vlogmas video in case you missed it :-)

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07-06-2016

6 Marathon Training Tips For All Levels

This week is week 3 of marathon tranining and I can’t believe we just ran 10 miles yesterday. It’s amazing how fast your body can get back in shape. Just a month ago I was struggling to run 5-6 miles. Shooting to run anywhere from 3-6 miles today depending on how I feel. I want it to be a longer recovery day but I can only run at 2pm so it will be HOT. 95 degrees and 50% humidity. And I just do not want to run on the treadmill, so we’ll see…

Anyway, today I’ve got some great training info for you from the author of Running a Marathon For Dummies (and many other running related books), Dr. Jason Karp. I am following his intermediate plan in the aforementioned book. 

I sent him a few questions related to training that I thought might benefit other runners as well. Let’s get into it!

Training for a marathon? Check out these tips and insight from Dr. Jason Karp! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

1) What are your suggestions for adjusting pace in tempo runs or track workouts when it’s hot/humid?
Adjusting pace is okay as long as you are still running at the correct pace given the conditions. For example, if you’re doing a VO2 max interval workout on the track and it’s hot and humid, you still want to run at your VO2max pace whatever that pace may be on that day. It’s hard to know exactly by how much the weather will affect someone. Your VO2max pace may be a few seconds per mile slower on a hot/humid day, so adjust the time for your reps. If someone has a heart rate monitor, the pace can be adjusted by heart rate. For example, if on a cool day, you’re running at 7:00 mile pace at 100% max heart rate, but on a hot/humid day, you reach 100% max heart rate at 7:10 pace, then run at 7:10 pace that day.

2) I’ve seen you mention that exercising 250 min. per week and watching your nutrition will easily help you lose weight. Do those 250 minutes include easy runs? Or just hard workouts? What other tips do you have for getting to your race weight WHILE marathon training?
The number 250 is based on the 2009 position statement from the American College of Sports Medicine. It includes aerobic exercise. My next book is all about running for weight loss. Even though the subject tends to be made complicated, it’s really easy€” — to lose weight, you must expend more calories and consume fewer. So, when marathon training, don’t replenish all of the calories after long workouts. Only replace the calories you need to fuel your running and recover from workouts.

3) What do you think of cross training? Your plan has 1-2 days of rest. Do you think adding a day of cross training like cycling or swimming is beneficial? What about cycling in the AM and running in the PM, to get more cardio in but less impact on the legs?
I promote cross training for runners who aren’t running a lot of miles. In that case, cross training can definitely help with cardiovascular improvement. However, if you want to be a better runner, you must run. Swimming won’t make you a better runner.

4) Can you explain the running science behind the tempo runs and track workouts, and how they can help one achieve their marathon goal pace?
This can take a long time to answer. I’ve written entire books on this subject! Briefly, tempo runs help your endurance by training you to hold a faster aerobic pace by raising your lactate threshold, which is your fastest sustainable aerobic pace. Track workouts can help a variety of things, depending on what it is you’re trying to accomplish with the workout. For example, VO2max intervals can help improve your heart’s ability to pump blood and oxygen because you’re running at the maximum capability for your heart to do its job. Anaerobic workouts can recruit fast-twitch muscle fibers, improve your speed and the ability of your muscles to generate energy anaerobicall, without oxygen.

5) If you had to pick the ONE thing that I MUST do in training, what would it be? (i.e., long runs, tempo runs, sleep 8 hours per night, nap, etc.)
Train consistently and progressively from week to week and month to month and year to  year.

6) I know many people in the same boat as me, trying to BQ and feeling it is impossible. They are also in the same boat as me in terms of time goals. Dropping from a 4:30ish marathon to a BQ marathon time of 3:30ish. Do you think that is realistic?
It depends on the person’s genetic ability and the commitment he/she makes to train. With adequate training, most runners can run much faster than they are. Can someone go from 4:30 to 3:30? That depends on how much training went into that 4:30. If the person ran 20 miles per week without any other types of workouts, then I’d say probably. But if that person ran 60 miles per week and did tempo runs and interval workouts, and is still running 4:30, then a 3:30 is probably out of reach.

So there you have it folks! Some great info from Dr. Jason Karp. I’ve been stuck around 4:30-5, but I know I still have a lot I can do. Like running more, running more consistently throughout the year, doing more tempo runs, strength training, etc. So we’ll see what happens for NYC Marathon!

Who else is running a fall marathon?

What is your biggest running related question?

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06-23-2016

My Marathon Training Plan

So it’s finally here…time to train for the NYC Marathon. This week is week 1. I was going to do a 16 or 18 week plan, but then read about the benefits of a 20 week plan. Like having more time to gradually build up and also more flexbility if you miss some runs due to unforseen circumstances. So I decided to do the 20 week intermediate plan from Running a Marathon For Dummies by Jason Karp.

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(Bought these books together and highly recommend Champion’s Mind too.)

I have chatted with Jason a few times previously and that’s how I learned of his book. I was debating between this plan and Hansons. I have used Hansons before (2011 NYC Marathon) which lead to a PR, but I wanted to try something new AND believe this plan might better suit my weaknesses.

For instance, tempo runs and long runs are very challenging for me. I dread them. Track workouts are no big deal. I love them and while they can be hard, I never doubt that I will be able to do it (unlike tempos and long runs).

This plan has a heavy emphasis on tempo runs and intervals, and then in the later weeks starts adding VO2 Max intervals as well. The intermediate plan peaks aaround 50 MPW I believe. The book also offers a beginner and advanced plan. Here’s a shot of one of the training plan pages (this is the advanced plan)

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This is the first time I’m going into a plan with somewhat of a base. While I was only running 15-20 miles per week, I’ve been consistent with that and my cycling classes since January, so I am WAY fitter than any other time I have started a plan (aka at 0 miles per week lol).

The first track/tempo interval workout this week was:

  • 2 mile warm-up
  • 3×1 mile at threshold pace (for me, 10 min./mile but I ended up doing 9:30ish pace because I had read the wrong pace chart lol)
  • 1 mile cool-down

I actually did 1 mile warm-up + 1 lap cooldown because of time constraints. 

But I actually felt really good. It was a big challenging but doable. I honestly doubted myself going into the run – I figured I’d do 1 rep of the mile then have to drop down to 400s or something. Because 1) it was super hot and 2) I haven’t done mile repeats in years probably. No joke. And this is in week ONE! 

I am feeling good though – I know it’s only week 1 of 20, and I know it’s only one track workout, but I think it bodes well that I was able to finish mile repeats strong and on pace. I actually progressively ran faster too. So here’s to hoping it continues and I can FINALLY get a marathon PR, since Chicago was such a disaster.

I will be interviewing Dr. Jason Karp, the author of this plan, soon, so stay tuned for more info from him. And if you have any specific questions about running and marathon training, leave them below so I can send them to him!

SIDENOTE: If you follow me on social media, you’ve probably already seen this, but my mom and I finally started a running group! We met this other guy through a friend, who is connected with Asuncion Runners in Paraguay (my native country). So we decided to do a New Jersey chapter of that group. It’s not only Paraguays, but also from other countries. I’ve talked with my mom forever about starting a running group for the Latinos in the area. Many are new to running and just need some guidance and support from others – which is exactly what our group aims to offer. We are running our first 5K together this Saturday! 

I know many have said it, but running with a group really does make runs go by faster and it’s nice to have that camaraderie. I’ve been named the official Coach of the group ;)

Do you have a running group? How did you meet them/join them?

What training plan are you following at the moment?

Leave your running questions below so I can share with Dr. Jason Karp!

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06-08-2016

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels

Soooo…I meant to post this on Global Running Day but lately I just have not had enough time to blog consistently. I apologize about that! I will try to get back to the regular scheduled programming soon :-)

Anyway, I wanted to share these great running tips I gathered from fellow runners. Whether you’re a beginner or more advanced, I guarantee you’ll find something helpful here. I’ve broken them up into specific topics, so I hope you find something helpful!

31 Running Tips For Runners Of All Levels! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

Training Plans & Tips

Getting Faster

Weather & Terrain Related Tips

Running & Life

So many great posts and tips! I need to read the trail running ones because I DO want to start running on more trails, especially since I have 5 week or so left where I can run for fun before marathon training starts.

For those of you training for a marathon (and marathon runners in general), do you run on trails even during training? Do you feel like it slows you WAY down? I run at least 2 min. per mile slower.

I hope these tips were helpful for you! If you have a link to one of your own running tips, please feel free to leave it in the comments so I can check it out and bookmark it for my next roundup.

Stay tuned for a France trip recap – spoiler alert: we only ran once lol.

How many times do you run per week as opposed to cross training? Or do you run every day?

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05-18-2016

Running In Paris (Or At Least Trying To)

I haven’t been blogging as much lately, so not sure if I’ve mentioned this (if you follow me on instagram you have probably seen it) but I’m heading to Paris and Nice with my mom and sister tomorrow!!

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This has been on my bucket list since middle school. I took French in middle school and high school and always dreamed of going to France. Paris has been my number 1 dream location forever. I just can’t believe we are actually going!

We’ll also be hitting up Nice in the south of France to see Coldplay there. They are my sister’s absolute favorite band, so I got us tickets when they first came out as a graduation gift. 

I would love your help in planning our itinerary! Honestly, I’ve been so busy, I haven’t been able to give it much thought. But we do know we want to see the obvious: Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Arc De Triomphe, and the Louvre. I would love to have time to go to Mont St. Michelle, but it’s about a two hour drive…so we’ll see.

Honestly, I am a bit nervous for the trip. I’m nervous about 1) flying over the Atlantic the whole time lol and 2) just general nervousness about the state of the world at the moment, and alerts for traveling to Europe. But my sister and others have said to think positive and not let fear dictacte what I do. So I’m trying to just not think about it.

Anyway, my mom and I DO plan on running while there. We need to continue our base building plan in order to start marathon training in July strong. So I found a few routes online and on Strava I figured I’d share in case anyone else ever is looking for places to run in Paris. Below are a few resources!

Running in Paris? Here are some running route suggestions! | http://reach-yourpeak.com

The Tuileries Gardens, next to the Louvre and encircled by a 1.1-mile path, are a prime Right Bank running locale. Two spots outside central Paris good for hill work are Parc des Buttes Chaumont and Parc Montsouris, another Hemingway favorite.

I can’t wait to explore the city!

Please do leave any suggestions or recommendations for places to eat and things to do :)

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02-23-2016

My Mom Is My Amy Cragg

Those of you who watched the US Olympic Marathon Trials will “get” this post, and if you didn’t watch it/aren’t familiar with professional marathon running, the basics are this: Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg are training partners, teammates, and really helped each other during a tough race.

As I was watching the race unfold, I watched Shalane and Amy run together basically the entire race.

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In the last few miles, it was very apparent that Shalane was struggling, and Amy stayed with her, talking to her and clearly trying to give her a pep talk. It was definitely reminiscent of my tough times during my first NYC Marathon in 2011 and Chicaggo Marathon (where it was super hot).

In the last mile or so, Amy left Shalane because she saw the third place (at the time) runner closing in. She waited for Shalane at the finish line, and ended up catching her and she fell in total exhaustion. Here’s a pic:

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After the race, Shalane credited Amy for getting her through and to the finish line. Sometimes I really can’t believe the  mental strength these pros have. To continue running through dehydration and getting dizzy…that takes guts.

Anyway, as I was watching all of this, I couldn’t help but be grateful that my mom trains with me and runs most every step with me as well. She is my Amy Cragg. In races, when I’m bonking, she will give me pep talks and tell me to keep going and be strong.

Chicago Marathon was my worst race thus far. Yet, my mom stayed with my throughout, even though she felt fine, and helped me mentally get through it. It also pushed me harder because I didn’t want to slow her down too much. I know if I was alone, I would have probably just walked the last few miles and totally given up.

People have asked me (and her), “Why doesn’t she just go ahead and run her own race?” Trust me, I’ve told her to do that too. I always feel bad when I hold her back, but she doesn’t care. She says she wants to run with me and cross the finish with me, and that it wouldn’t feel the same to her if she crossed alone. Well, this is true for half marathons and marathons…shorter races = every (wo)man for herself :-P

I have even told her to go for a BQ time (she needs 4:00) but she said she would not want to run the Boston Marathon unless we both were there together.

I really am so grateful to have my mom running with me, and it makes for amazing experiences and memories.

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Our first half marathon!

So I am now feeling more motivated than ever to make the 2016 NYC Marathon a great one. I want to feel strong and PR. It’s in November, which feels forever away, but I’m sure time will fly and we will be in the midst of marathon training before we know it.

Runners: do you have any tips on things to do NOW before marathon training starts in July? We are currently about to start a 5K training plan to try to get faster.

Do you have a running/training partner? How do they help and push you?

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01-11-2016

Does Spinning Make You Faster?

Okay, so I’ve only been doing spin for the past 2 weeks, probably a total of 6-8 classes but I already feel the difference with my running.

This morning I did a 4×800 meter workout on the treadmill and was seriously doubting I could even hold a 9:00/mile pace for a half mile. I surprised myself and felt great! I did them in 4:20 (8:40/mile pace), 4:15 (8:30/mile pace), 4:14 (8:28/mile pace) and 4:00 (8:00/mile pace). It was challenging but not THAT challenging. 

When I had talked to the owner of the spin studio I am going to (Ride + Reflect in Bernardsville, NJ in case you’re curious), she was telling me how spinning can definitely help my running and aerobic capacity. It has helped many of her clients which are also skiiers.

As runners, we constantly read about cross training and how important it is or how great it is if you’re injured. I have been skeptical about it because in my mind, in order to get faster/better at running, I figured I should just try to run more. I’m still planning on increasing my miles this year BUT I really would like to also include spin classes into that routine.

I did some googling and found a lot of great facts about how spinning can make you faster and a better runner…let’s get into it:

Does spinning make you faster? Here are a few ways how it can! | reach-yourpeak.com

Spinning is non-impact

Duh, right? Well the benefit here is that for those of us that can’t run twice a day for fear of injuries (I hate my shin problems), a spin class can be the second workout of the day that will help with cardio/aerobic endurance. As long as you’re properly situated on your bike, you should feel comfortable and no pain. I recently met a man who has had double knee surgery and is at spin everyday (and has no issues). Truly a great cross training option. If you still have your doubts, here’s what Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running has to say about it:

Physically, I got stronger than ever. I was doing more cardiovascular exercise than I had ever done with barely any extra injury risk. If you’re injury-prone, this is exactly how you improve your personal bests.

Spinning strengthens your legs

This is key for running, right? I can’t tell you how hard my first spin class was. My quads were on fire. I was so thankful it was only a 30 minute class because I was so done.

According to Breaking Muscle:

Spinning develops the leg muscles more than running, simply because it takes more muscle power to push a pedal through different levels of resistance than it does to move the leg through a running stride, although running uphill develops considerable leg strength, too.

Spinning can be a great recovery tool

I haven’t used a spin class as a recovery session yet, though the studio I go to does offer 30 minute gentle rides. Here’s a good excerpt from this article on Runner’s World:

Cycling can benefit runners for both recovery and training. It aids in recovery by flushing the legs out. A super-easy spin has no impact, and you’re moving blood through the muscles. On the opposite end of the spectrum, cycling can be great for building high-end aerobic training doing intervals.

Spinning can increase your cadence

You’ve probably heard that you should run around 180 steps per minute. My body naturally falls into that routine (and my brother always makes fun of me saying I take quick little steps lol), but if you need help with that, spinning can help. Throughout the class your moving your legs faster and faster – and you’ll even notice improvements in each class. I now do about 2 miles more than the first class I went to 2 weeks ago. By pedaling around 90 RPMs, you’ll mimic the 180 steps per minute, and it might feel more natural when you hit the roads.

As I said in the beginning, I still feel like more running = better running. I know many who disagree, and each runner is different, so to each his own. But I do think adding in spin classes (or cycling outdoors if you like that better) can build up your leg strength and aerobic capacity. I liked this last quote by Jason of Strength Running:

To be a good runner, you have to run a lot. Alternative training can help bridge the gap, especially for injury-prone runners, but you can’t plant potatoes and harvest carrots (I love that line!).

My goal for this year is train now through March for 5K, perhaps run a spring half, and then begin marathon training in June/July. I want to have a solid base by then and also ramp up my miles during marathon training. Last year was doing average of 30. During my last NYC Marathon training I peaked at 55 (seriously how??). So my goal for this time is to also peak around 50ish. We’ll see what happens!

Do you regularly take spin classes? If you don’t mind my asking, how many miles to you get in 45 minutes? I’m currently at 17!

What is your favorite form of cross training?

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10-22-2015

What I Learned From My XC Team: Part 2

Last year, I wrote up a few things I learned from my cross country team and my first season coaching. Now, our second season is about to come to a close. We have our last meet on Sunday, which is our Region Championship meet. If any runners place top 7, they qualify for the National meet. I am hoping at least 2 will but we will see!

When working with students, you learn new things every day, whether it’s new “slang” or new ways to look at life in general. So today I wanted to talk a bit about what I learned this season from them.

If you're a runner, check out these 5 tips from college cross country runners!

Don’t Complain

This was my number one lesson. I think that people don’t realize how much they complain…and when you complain a lot, people get annoyed. If you have a goal, do the work in getting there, and don’t complain about how hard workouts are. I know I will use this tactic in my own life next time I think about complaining about something. Nagging pains? Sure. But complaining and asking to do less reps of a workout? “Come on bro.”

I think complaining is just a natural thing we do to make conversation…such as, “omg it’s so hot out,” “omg it’s so cold out,” “omg this workout is hard!” But after a while, the people you complain you will start getting tired of it, trust me. Just do the work – get it done. You’ll be proud of yourself when you finish a tough workout and push through.

Be Competitive

One of my runners is very competitive, and competitive with himself in practice. He has a great attitude and works hard every day. Now I’m not saying to make every practice a race, but I’ll give him times he needs to hit, and he will push himself hard to hit those times, as opposed to having an “I can’t” mentality. I’ll give him a pace, he will say oh WOW! but then push himself to get it done. We can all do this on our runs and workouts. You will surprise yourself by how you can push yourself. Sometimes my own running coach, Marc, gives me workouts and paces where I really doubt myself. Yet somehow it gets done. Compete with yourself and work to make yourself better every day.

Be Cocky

One of my runners said to me yesterday, “I don’t care if you’re cocky and confident, but just don’t act like people need to bow down to you.” Very true. He is very confident in his abilities, but also supportive of everyone else. There is nothing wrong with being cocky – in fact, it might even pump you up before races! Tell yourself that you’re fast, strong, faster than your competition…change your frame of mind. I love this quote by Ronda Rousey that relates to this:

Some people like to call me cocky or arrogant, but I just think, “How dare you assume I should think less of myself.”

So true, right??

Talent Doesn’t Matter, Attitude Does

This is something new I’ve learned this season. Of course every coach wants a team of all-stars, but we know that everyone has different skill levels. What I learned this year was this: Look, I don’t care if you run a 20 min. 5K or a 30 min. 5K. If you show up to practice every day, and work hard, THAT is what matters and makes an impression on me. Do not complain to me about your race times after a meet when you’re not putting in the effort every practice.

Don’t Judge By Running Form

The first day of practice, this student shows up and I took one look at him and thought he’d be an average runner. His form was not your typical running form. Well, guess what, he is the number one runner on our team and making improvements every race. If you saw him run, you would be surprised too! So I guess the age old adage don’t judge a book by the cover is true in most senses ;)

Overall, it was a great XC season and I am proud of what they have accomplished. I am crossing my fingers some of them qualify at the Region Championships – they really deserve it!

Can you relate to any of these? What do you think about complaining? After this season, I feel like I’ll never complain again :)

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10-16-2015

Chicago Marathon 2015 Race Recap

Where to even begin?? My mom and I finished our third marathon together on Sunday and it was a truly great experience. Yes, the race did not go as planned, but Theodora reminded me in her recap post that we should never lose sight of the fact that running 26.2 is a feat in and of itself. I think runners beat themselves up over their times (I see it on my own XC team) and forget that the fact that we CAN run is most important. PS – this recap might be on the longer side!

We got into Chicago on Thursday and did our sightseeing Thursday and Friday. We were up at 5 am for our Thursday morning flight, so we were pretty tired when we got there but I wanted to see as much as possible.

Thursday we decided to go to Millenium Park and check out Cloud Gate/The Bean, then walked along Magnificent Mile, and then took a bus to Oak Street Beach to take a lakefront walk.

thebean

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 10.06.45 AM

It was a lot of walking, which is why we decided to do it Thursday since we had a few days until the race.

Friday we slept in, then woke up for a shake-out run on the lakeshore path (which I loved!!). Then headed to the expo to pick up our bibs. I am dumb and forgot my license in the hotel, so we got there, tried to check in, then had to leave to get my license and come back. I’m pretty sure the woman didn’t believe me when I initially walked up, because I was like “omg I forgot my license!! can I show you my credit card or ANYTHING??” (worth a shot), and she said no (obviously), so I said I would be back. When I came back she was like oh wow you actually DID forget your license?? So I am thinking she thought I was trying to pick up someone else’s bib or something…good to know that they take all that seriously! Here are a few pics from the daytime:

lakeshore

It was cold and cloudy that day…it couldn’t stay like that for the race???

ownchicago

startline

We did a lot of walking around the expo because I had to buy a few things. We decided to buy gels at the expo and I forgot to pack my hydration belt (rookie mistake lol), so I had to find something. I actually bought a Fitletic belt with just the loops for the gels AND their water bottle add-on and I actually really loved it! (I can’t find it on their website actually but here it is).

I wore my FlipBelt just to carry my phone (it is so light you don’t even feel it), then the Fitletic belt to hold my gels and the water. It did not feel heavy at all. I tried their other belts at their booth but they felt too big and bulky for me.

I also bought a pair of lightweight running sunglasses since it was going to be super sunny and I don’t own running glasses. The race director’s email recommended it to protect your eyes, so I got some. I know…”nothing new on race day” but I wanted to be safe.

Afterwards, we went back to drop off our stuff at the hotel and then head to Willis Tower. By this time it was around 6:45 PM. There was not much of a line since most people go during the day, but we got up there around 7:20. Then my only gripe about this entire trip happened…

We are waiting in line for the SkyDeck, which is actually just 3 tiny glass boxes basically, and each has a line. This group of probably 10 tourists are in there legit setting up a photo shoot. One would shine their flashlight on them while others took pictures. They would take a million pictures each, then switch with other people, do different poses, etc. No joke, they were in there for FIFTEEN MINUTES.

The people behind them in line were starting to get annoyed and finally a man went forward and said you need to leave you have been in there for 15 minutes it’s not fair. They continue taking photos. Then a person who works at SkyDeck came up to tell them 1-2 photos per person and then leave. He also says SkyDeck is closing in 10 minutes so everyone gets 1 photo. That really pissed people off because we had all been waiting patiently AND paid, yet now we are going to get kicked out?? By the time my mom and I got in there, we took literally 2 photos and he kicked us out. We didn’t even get to take in the sights. For me, that was a complete waste of $40. I tweeted at them with my thoughts but never heard back – oh well. Why isn’t there someone at each SkyDeck area monitoring how long people take????

ANYWAY, here’s a photo we did manage to get.

skydeck

Moving on…so Saturday we went to Target to pick up race essentials (post-run recovery drinks, breakfast, etc.), ate lunch at Potbelly’s, then just relaxed all day. We laid in bed and watched videos on FloTrack Pro. I love the Driven series! We watched the Kara Goucher and Alexa Efraimson episodes to get ourselves pumped up to run.

Race Day

We woke up at 5:30 am and since we had put together everything the night before, we were quickly ready to go. We made our oatmeal with PB and banana, and coffee, and called our Uber. Our hotel was 2 miles from the start so it was super easy to get there (Chicago South Loop Hotel). On our walk to the starting area I was trying to eat my oatmeal but the nerves had set in. I had to force myself to eat it and not gag lol. I get bad race day nervous – I feel this way even in little local 5K races!

We got ready before checking our bags: leg massage with Tiger Balm, inhaler, tying shoes, putting hair ribbon on (priorities).

gettingready

Oh that picture just reminded me I also bought a Sparkly Soul headband at the expo. Thick and did not budge at all during the race!

Once we checked our bags we hit the porta-a-potties one more time and did some strides. Corrals closed at 7:45, and we were in the opening for our corral at 7:43 yet the woman wouldn’t let us in. She was yelling at a bunch of runners CORRALS ARE CLOSED and this one women said IT’S NOT 7:45!! The woman would not let her in and told her she had to move back a corral. Well that runner did not care; she jumped the barrier and ran away. The woman legit tried to grab the runners arm to get her back…come on, it is not even 7:45 yet. I didn’t really care because I knew our goal pace was going to be slower than those in F corral anyway, so we went back to G.

 startcorral

Our wave started at 8 am, and by 8:08 we had crossed the start. We were on our way!! We really had to hold back in that first mile – the crowds were crazy! In mile 2.5ish, I had to stop at the port-a-potties again really quick, and we lost 2 minutes, but we made it up by the 10K mile marker.

I don’t have splits because I did not wear my Garmin. I had read that Garmins lose their signal and gets all funky PLUS the night before, my Garmin refused to turn on. I was like, oh cool, bad omen. Of course, now it works perfectly fine. But I’m thinking it was a good thing, or I would have been so disappointed in the second half seeing my pace splits.

Anyway, so I don’t have splits but I’ll tell you what I remember.

We were on pace for a 4:48ish all through half way. I felt good still at that point. The first half was all shaded too so it was perfect. I started thinking about how I would write a blog post about how I PR-ed…don’t ever get too ahead of yourself in a marathon haha.

halfmarathon

At around mile 15 is where I started to feel tired and fading. The heat had started to play a role and the second half was not shaded at all, and as I have mentioned before I sweat A LOT. But I tried to not let it phase me. I kept repeating “Deal with it.” That was my mantra of choice.

I think around 16 or 17 I needed to put headphones in. I put on earbud in so I could still hear my mom if she needed to talk to me. When we got to areas with big crowds, that gave me a little boost and I’d try to pick it up a little.

By mile 18 I was like, nope, going to need to run/walk for now. I had a killer headache from neck tension I think. It’s weird because it’s not like my legs were tired or felt like lead, I think it was mainly dehydration issues. My face was now covered in salt. I made sure to take a salt pill every 30 minutes and stop at every water stop for 1-2 cups of water. I was taking GUs every 4 miles or so. I took my Honey Stinger waffle at 18 hoping it would give me a boost.

We got to mile 20 and my mom was like only 6 miles to go! At that point, I honestly thought to myself (didn’t say this to her though), “I don’t know if I can make it 6 more miles.” But I told myself to shut up and “grind it out.” That was my second mantra of the race. Honestly, if my mom weren’t with me and I didn’t want her to get mad at me (lol) I probably would have walked those last 6 miles.

At this point I knew 2 of our goals were out the window (anything below our PR, and 4:55). I was like ok, let’s try to do sub-5. But my pace just kept getting slower and slower. I was running for 3 minutes and walking for 1 minute. I would really try to pick it up in those 3 minutes. I stopped at a medical tent at one point to get advil for my headache that was not going away.

At mile 23, my mom was like come on! We can run these last 3 miles! I’m like, you can, I can’t. I told her to go on without me but she didn’t want to. I tried to continue picking it up when I could. I knew that now we were going to finish in over 5 hours.

Finally we hit one mile to go and I told her ok I will try to sprint for a 1 min (sprint…ha), and walk for 30 seconds. I would run as fast as I possibly could, recover for a bit, then repeat. I did pass some runners at least.

We saw the sign for 800 meters to go and I told myself I would run the rest of the way. It was 2 laps on the track. Then 400 meters to go (on a hill!!!) and then I saw the finish line. Wow people warned me about that hill before the finish and I’m sure in real life it is small but at that moment it felt never ended. We turned to the final straightaway and ran as hard as we could through the finish line.

Even though it was a miserable run (not as bad as my first marathon), we finished with smiles on our faces and happy to finish together.

medal

finishline

Final race time was 5:12.

Despite the race conditions, I would run Chicago again. My mom said she likes NYC Marathon better (I still think nothing can compare to that marathon), but Chicago had great organization and crowd support. Water stops were well organized as well, and they had various wet sponge stations and banana stations! Although in the middle miles you are kind of in no-mans land with not many supporters, the same could be said for some miles in the NYC Marathon as well.

This was our first race outside of the tri-state area AND our first marathon besides NYC (which we have done twice).

Yes I was disappointed with my time, but I also know I tried as hard as I could with the conditions that were given to me. Thankfully my mom was with me or I might have walked those last 3 miles. She pushes me in races and in practice, and although she said she didn’t want to run another marathon again, I know she will ;) She did great and had zero issues/pain…she probably could have ran 4:30 or something if she wasn’t with me. I feel bad holding her back because of my hydration issues, and it is something I really need to figure out. Clearly I need more than salt pills and water/Gatorade every mile. I don’t know what the solution is, but I have to figure it out.

Oh we also made “mom” and “daughter” shirts and got lots of comments on the course about it! My mom keeps saying we should write a book about our mother/daughter running adventures lol…new ebook idea perhaps?

daughtershirt

Surprisingly, after the race I was fine, legs-wise. I did stop in the medical tent at the end due to nausea, and they told me I was pretty dehydrated and gave me water + Gatorade. But my legs were fine. I was walking normally and felt no pain. So we went back to the hotel, showered, then went to check out Niketown. We wanted our medals engraved but the line was pretty long. I ordered myself a Chicago Marathon sweatshirt which should be arriving today :) 

We celebrated with an ice cold beer and some PF Changs. The next morning we were up at 5 am yet again to catch our flight back home. My legs were a bit sore for about 2 days but now I am back to normal and ready to get back to running. I usually take the winter off inadvertently because I will lift and stuff instead and am sick of running. But now, I want to keep training and build upon this training cycle so I can get that PR in NYC next fall.

If you read all of that…thanks for reading! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and input…and if you ran Chicago (or any marathon recently) congratulations!! No matter what your time is, we must remember that 26.2 is a tremendous feat and always something to be proud of.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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